From farts to diamonds

Neil Kane talks with John Gage

At Davos last week I met some remarkable technologists. But one guy who I had never heard of before had an interesting story: his firm turns methane gas into diamonds. Hence my sensationalistic headline of turning farts to diamonds (farts contain mostly methane gas).

The guy is Neil Kane, President of Advanced Diamond Technologies, and that’s him above showing his diamond film that was deposited on a bed of silicon to Sun Microsystems’ lead researcher John Gage.

On the bus ride home from Davos to Zurich he sat next to me and told me how the process works and just how useful it is.

Turns out methane has one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. If you burn methane you’ll probably get a little soot, which is those carbon atoms showing up. But if you remove the oxygen, throw in a cocktail of a few other secret gasses, and heat it all up you can deposit those carbon items on a starter bed of diamond.

Now, why would they do that?

Well, turns out that diamond has a few interesting properties. We all know it’s the hardest substance around, right? Well, I didn’t know that if you have diamond on two surfaces that it’s among the lowest friction coefficient around, too. Translation: if you coat bearing surfaces with diamond you’ll save energy and the bearings will last a lot longer.

What else are they doing with it? Well, did you know your cell phone has several quartz crystals in it? Why? The crystals vibrate and keep the clock rates all synchronized. Diamond, he tells me, is even better than quartz for that use because it is more highly tunable and energy efficient and can be made to fit in a smaller space than quartz can.

Anyway, it’s great to hear about good old American innovation that’s happening in the midwest (the company is located near Chicago).

And if you think I’m being original with my headline here, I’m not. As they say “farts are a girl’s best friend!”

No, you’re right, that won’t go over well if I try it on Maryam. :-)

Comments

  1. Been looking at Olga Shenderova’s stuff for a few years now, quite interesting particulary in reference to detonation nanodiamonds.

  2. Been looking at Olga Shenderova’s stuff for a few years now, quite interesting particulary in reference to detonation nanodiamonds.

  3. What are they putting in the water at Davos?

    The fresh influx of hillarious post titles and photos is really refreshing, not to mention entertaining? Thanks for the breath of fresh air!

  4. What are they putting in the water at Davos?

    The fresh influx of hillarious post titles and photos is really refreshing, not to mention entertaining? Thanks for the breath of fresh air!

  5. a new juvenile low

    Never fear, all hope is not lost. New low’s are always around the corner. One thing you can count on this blog.

  6. a new juvenile low

    Never fear, all hope is not lost. New low’s are always around the corner. One thing you can count on this blog.

  7. The Wall Street Journal used the headline “swamp gas to diamonds.”

    Oh, geez, we can’t have any fun anymore? Gotta be so serious. I guess I should still wear the tie I wore at Davos last week.

  8. The Wall Street Journal used the headline “swamp gas to diamonds.”

    Oh, geez, we can’t have any fun anymore? Gotta be so serious. I guess I should still wear the tie I wore at Davos last week.

  9. Hence my sensationalistic headline of turning farts to diamonds (farts contain mostly methane gas).

    Nothing makes a joke more humorous than explaining that joke in excruciating detail. Good job dishing out teh funny, Bob!

  10. Hence my sensationalistic headline of turning farts to diamonds (farts contain mostly methane gas).

    Nothing makes a joke more humorous than explaining that joke in excruciating detail. Good job dishing out teh funny, Bob!

  11. Thats hilarious! I guess cows could be blinged out in the near future then huh!?!?! Its amazing what scienitsists can come up with nowadays. Its like age old alchemy in modern times. HOwever, if my bofriend ever gives me a diamond enagegement ring that smells like a fart I’m going to say no!!! That is, unless its a big one!

  12. Thats hilarious! I guess cows could be blinged out in the near future then huh!?!?! Its amazing what scienitsists can come up with nowadays. Its like age old alchemy in modern times. HOwever, if my bofriend ever gives me a diamond enagegement ring that smells like a fart I’m going to say no!!! That is, unless its a big one!